Two City Council seats each have three candidates hoping to advance past the Aug. 4 primary election.
Christopher Lee and Glenn Stewart both are looking to unseat Keith Olson from position 3, while Matthew Durkee and Teresa Taylor are vying for Paul Ingram’s position 4 seat.
The top two vote-getters for each position in the primary will move on to the Nov. 3 general election.
The Bellingham Herald asked the candidates a series of questions about their qualifications and key issues in the city. Responses below are verbatim as submitted but in some cases were shortened for length. Full, unedited candidate responses are available at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog.
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Two candidates — Stewart and Durkee — did not respond to the questionnaire. If a candidate’s response is missing, it is because the question was unanswered.
Why are you running for Ferndale City Council?
Olson: I want to continue moving Ferndale forward as we have progressed to the fastest growing city in Western Washington. The policies enacted by city administration and council have been very successful in bringing new business and residents to Ferndale. This directly results in keeping taxes low and spread out among more taxpayers and brings in more sales tax revenue. Sales tax revenue is about the only way to finance city operations and needs, so it is important to be able to have a stable revenue source so homeowners are not over taxed.
Lee: We live in a growing city comprised of people from many backgrounds and age groups. The city council represents our community and should be as diverse.
Ingram: I am seeking re-election that I may try to complete my “bucket list” for Ferndale, a new city wide Parks district that will greatly improve our City Park system, and the building of the Thornton Road over-crossing to connect our most densely populated residential area to the Portal Way Freeway interchange.
Taylor: I’m running because community service is important to me and I feel like it’s a good time to step up and get involved. There has been much growth in Ferndale and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. By communicating with the grassroots, I could help identify the real issues.
What have you accomplished in Ferndale?
Olson: We will soon be announcing a major retailer moving to Ferndale which will be a huge boost to our sales tax revenue stream. I have also done my best to make sure developers pay their fair share of development costs and not take from the city coffers so developers can pocket more profit. I have also done my very best to keep taxes low so that our elderly and less fortunate are not taxed out of their homes. As a recent retiree, I can see how important this is for our elderly and working families.
Ingram: I am very proud of the things that we as a council have accomplished. The improvements to our City that have been completed by this Council have made our city a better place to live and raise a family. We have improved our streets, built a new Police Station, a new Library, new Community Center and a new Visitor Center. Our water is now rated as some of the best in the State.
Taylor: I have volunteered countless hours at Hovander Park’s Community Garden, the Ferndale Riverwalk garden, the clean-up of the former Ferndale Boys & Girls Club, soccer coach for the Ferndale Red Lions and served on the PTSO in the Ferndale Schools as my kids were growing up. Volunteering provides valuable community services so more money can be spent on local improvements, it brings people together, and strengthens our community. Community Service is important to me and that is why I am running for Ferndale City Council.
A plan to levy a penny gas tax in Ferndale to pay for roads and infrastructure failed at the polls last year. How should Ferndale pay for road improvements?
Olson: The citizens decided road improvements were not a priority for them so they voted not to increase their taxes. I respect their wishes and their decision.
Lee: The levy was a creative idea but submitted at a time when other projects were being highlighted.
Ingram: Road repairs are being funded from several sources including the Transportation Improvement District tax approved by the voters.
Taylor: First, Ferndale needs to prioritize areas for road improvements and determine how much each road project costs. Then Ferndale needs to go after federal dollars for road improvements via Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).
What does the city of Ferndale need to tackle in the next four years?
Olson: Citizens want services from their government and the only way to pay for those services are mostly through sales tax revenue which the state takes most of, followed by the county and then lastly the city portion. The majority of taxes paid by citizens go to the state. The city must continue it's excellent record for bringing new business to Ferndale so we can increase of sales tax revenue stream and solve our lack of funds for services.
Lee: Growth and infrastructure. Extensive planning and solutions need to be created in order for our town center to change and succeed.
Ingram: We need to find a way to bring more retail to Ferndale to help keep our tax monies out of Bellingham.
Taylor: We must prepare for economic growth for our growing community. We must build an economy that is attractive to businesses that stimulate job growth, one that makes our community more livable and pays fair wages to lift our citizens out of poverty. It is important that we ensure federal support of our efforts to strengthen our infrastructure – roads, sidewalks, water supply, sewer, and so forth. We should support the jail and advocate for treatment for those who are mentally ill and chemically dependent to divert people from jail to spend less money.
Reach Wilson Criscione at 360-756-2803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.